JIS News

The low level of response from the New Kingston business community, has forced the Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to scale down its June 7 earthquake drill, to include mostly organisations, which have undergone sensitisation workshops, among other forms of preparation.
The drill, which was launched in January, is now expected to cover only a fraction of entities on Trafalgar Road to the north; Pawsey Road to the east; Oxford Road to the south and the western boundary by Holborn Road.
Nadine Newsome, Director of Information and Training at ODPEM, told JIS News that with less than a month to go, the response from the business community in New Kingston was still below expectation.
“Right now, we are focusing on further sensitisation rather than having a mass New Kingston drill. Therefore, we are working with those businesses, which have in the past, been sensitised to earthquake preparedness and have conducted earthquake drills,” she informed.
These include those entities operating in buildings owned and managed by Jamaica Properties Limited, West Indies Home Contractors and Life of Jamaica Property Management.
Ms. Newsome said that over the past month, ODPEM has been conducting two-hour sensitisation sessions targeting safety wardens, who represent the tenants of the various properties. The safety wardens have responsibility for all safety-related issues, emergency management and disaster preparedness in the respective organisations. “They are like the eyes and ears of the company as it relates to developments in disaster and emergency management and environmental affairs,” Ms. Newsome explained.
She added that, “they are also responsible for keeping staff members abreast, educating and sensitising them on procedures for safety, evacuation, and disaster preparedness. If the country is impacted by an earthquake for instance, they would ensure that staff members follow through the pre-determined procedures.”
Elaborating on the workshops, Ms. Newsome said the main purpose was to educate persons on the plans for the drill and what would happen on the morning of the event. “How they should respond will also be a part of the overall exercise,” she noted.
As for the response from participants attending the workshops, Ms. Newsome said that most have been energised to participate in the drill. Not only have the safety wardens been spreading the word within their organisations, they have been inviting other businesses to come onboard.
Ms. Newsome disclosed that as a result, requests for sensitisation for staff have come from organisations like the Courtleigh Hotel, Citibank and Jamaica Public Service Company. Other businesses slated for workshops leading up to the drill include the Jamaica Pegasus and First Caribbean.
“We hope that the sample of participating businesses will provide adequate findings so that we can implement new procedures or seek the way forward for the New Kingston community,” Ms. Newsome pointed out.”We also hope that it (the drill) will be successful and that we will improve on emergency procedures for the area,” she added.
The drill will coincide with the 314th anniversary of the June 7, 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal, killing some 2000 residents of the area then dubbed: “the wickedest city in the world.”